Seven US academic institutions joined forces to develop their own digital currency. Their goal is to create a competitor to bitcoin and Ethereum, which will surpass these current market leaders by transaction speed.

Stronger together

Researchers from seven US universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University, and the Berkeley University, will develop a cryptocurrency called Unit-e as part of their participation in the non-profit Distributed Technology Research (DTR) foundation. The hedge fund Pantera Capital, known for its investments in cryptocurrency start-ups, provides financial support to the fund. The Unit-e blockchain is scheduled to be launched in the second half of 2019.

The developers mainly focus on the scalability of the new network and its transaction speed. The researchers hope to make the Unit-e network capable of conducting up to 10,000 transactions per second.

To achieve greater speed and scalability, DTR deconstructed the blockchain technology that supports most cryptocurrencies and sought to improve almost every element of it, said Pramod Viswanath, a researcher on the project and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The blockchain needs to be technologically improved, said Joey Krug, co-chief investment officer at Pantera Capital in San Francisco. In his opinion, if not scaled enough, the blockchain will remain in the world of ideas and will not be widely implemented in practice.

“It may be relegated to ideas that were nice but didn’t work in practice: more like 3D printing than the internet,” Krug concluded.

MIT and blockchain

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been studying and experimenting with cryptocurrencies and blockchain for several years. MIT collaborates with the startup Learning Machine, which develops a blockchain-based system for digital diplomas. More than 100 MIT graduates received such digital diplomas recorded in the bitcoin blockchain through the Blockcerts platform by the fall of 2017.

In the fall of 2018, MIT, among other US universities, was rumored to have invested in cryptocurrency funds. According to a source, these colleges invested tens of millions of dollars in funds, which in turn invested them in cryptocurrencies and shares of cryptocurrency companies.